Hi. We want to share our latest project and talk a bit about the process. 

We are Matt Aronoff (the photographer) and Aryn Shelander (the acrobat & contortionist).

About The Shoot

We wanted to take some unconventional pictures that could capture movement over time. Combining a repeated strobe light with long exposure seemed to be a way to do it. We found a bolt of black fabric that gave us just over 100 square feet of background. In retrospect, we could have used a lot more black fabric, but we worked with what we had and set up some black mats to fill in the gaps. The fabric got staple-gunned to the wall of Aryn's circus gym. We waited until sunset, and shut off the lights. The darkness gave us clean breaks between the strobe flashes. 

Strobe Speed vs. Movement

After a bit of trial and error, we found that the speed of the strobe light worked better with different qualities of movement. 

Faster strobe intervals highlighted small movements.

Slower strobe intervals left room for more dramatic movements.

Fast strobe with dramatic movements tended to look messy.

Slow strobe with small movements tended to be boring.

Previous photo shoot

In an earlier shoot, we captured some great shots, but wanted the photos to feel more dynamic. Here are some examples from that shoot:


We found some things that didn't work. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes!

At first, the photos were pretty much a mess. Focus was hard to manage in a dark room, movement started too late, and there was too much extraneous light in the room.

Soon, we realized that the first flash was much stronger than subsequent flashes. In order to take advantage of this, Aryn had to start in the most important shape so that it was the dominant exposure in the photo.

Reducing the strobe brightness didn't improve the photo. The lines lost their impact, and since none of the exposures stood out, the viewer's eye had no path to follow.

Seriously. Very unfortunate. Not all movement did what we wanted.

Even when lighting and the shutter fired when we expected, some movements distorted the body in... unfortunate ways.

Little details that would have gone unnoticed in a live contortion routine suddenly made a difference. Aryn's knee position had to be completely stable, or we ended up with RubberLeg.

And now, on with the show!

As we set out for our shoot, we wanted to:

  • Capture the flow of movement over time.

  • Create an otherworldy, alien, and eerily more than human world.

  • Rely on light and timing, (rather than post-processing) to capture the movement.

Here are the photos:

For any use of these photos, please use the contact form on my website.